The IE zoom of death

While slowly beating my brains out with a SAP shaped hammer, the oh-so -helpfull IT support called, and asked why I was trying to use the native SAP client?  I asked what was wrong with that? To which he replied:

Well, no-one uses it, and its really bad.

Yeah, no shit Sherlock.

So I kindly informed him that I had previously reported that the SAP web application had stopped working, and had turned into a paint program.  He said, “By any chance do you have the zoom set to anything other than 100%?”

Stunned silence.

As my brain slowly started processing the idea that a client-side zoom setting had caused the ENTIRE application to hang, I realised that I was trying to apply Reason in the first place.  So I simply did what the IT guy said, and checked.

Oh. My. Fracking. God.

Behold – the IE zoom level of death:

IE zoom of death
IE zoom of death

I set this back to 100%, and wouldn’t you know it, it started working….

….until… <click>


…. ah yes – we all knew this wasn’t actually going to solve all the problems.  In fact, it has joyfully created another problem.

The report which I had wasted my ENTIRE DAY on is inaccesable from the web client.  The IT guy on the phone said those dreaded words:

“Huh.  Never seen it do that before.”

I said that if I  have to delete my report, and start ALL OVER AGAIN, I would come through the phone and strangle him.  He laughed, but with that tinge of fear caused by the realisation that I might actually manage it, somehow.

Word trying to raise the dead: Attached templates from servers long gone.

So, after the IT department failed to upgrade Lotus Notes remotely, they came to my desk, and ran Microsoft Update.  Manually.  And installed about 40 updates.  Why hadn’t these been updated already? Don’t ask.

Some of these updates were for Office, and naturally, something went wrong.  All of a sudden, Word started hanging when trying to open documents.  Google found some forums, which lead to this article

Documents that have attached templates take a long time to open in Word 2002 and in Word 2003 …

So the solution is unplug from the network, and run a Macro, cutting and pasting into it every directory in which you may have documents with attached templates on non-existent servers.  Oh fun.

Not to mention that I also dislike VB, especially VBA, and trying to research recursive directory search code requires the internet, which is disconnected because testing the VBA macro will hang.  Nice.

Oh, and by the way, the AutoOpen macro? Yeah, it runs after the templates have been loaded, so no good trying to write a macro that fixes this only when you try to open this document.

Dear Lazyweb: write me an app that searches all my computer for Word files, detects an attached template beginning with “\\” and replaces it with “Normal”.

Quality of RFP documentation

You can expect a wide range of quality for RFP documents.  Sometimes, they are an imaculate document with perfect section and page numbering that is consistant throughout.

Other times, they are a collection of photocopied, scanned, hand annotated monsters, with sections numbers from different conventions, and pictures like this:

Airport with sensor locations

This is a map of an airport, and on this map are the location of existing sensors which are to be replaced as part of the RFP.  Take special note of the 22 sensors and 9 RPU cabinets, and from this map, calculate the cost of

  • sensor cabling,
  • data cabling,
  • power cabling,
  • trenching,
  • obstruction light placement,
  • a thousand other things.

Now go and prepare a fixed price quote.  Oye.

DIY router upgrade (aka IT department workaround)

Lifehacker – Hack Attack: Turn your $60 router into a $600 router – DIY.

Funny, I had this draft post hanging around for a while, and then I came across this exact router configuration at work.  Turns out it was easier, faster and cheaper to buy 2 routers, flash the new firmware, and set up a point-to-point wireless connection into the staging area than it was to rely on the company’s IT department to do it.

They wanted to charge thousands of euros for a similar solution.  Thousands.   Seriously, the staging area is in the next room.

The IT department is actually outsourced to another company owned by the same parent company.  They offer shit service at a high price, and using them is mandatory.  I can’t say their name, but I say that it rhymes with this:

The new workplace: hours

Oh dear.

It has not been a good week for moral.  Let me summarize:

  • There are flexible hours.  The start time is between 8:00 and 8:30, and the end time is between 5 and 5:30.
    “The aim is to combine the employee’s right to manage their time freely with respect to their responsibility to a full workday.”
  • One hour for lunch, between 1:30 and 3:30.  Feel free to pass out from hunger before then.  The cafeteria will be closed until 1:30.  Vending machines only sell junk food.
  • Employee work time is calculated as the time between swiping-in and swiping-out of your building.
  • Since you will be considered to be working if you are inside the building, you must be in the building between the times stated above.  That is, you must enter the building between 8:00 and 8:30, and must not leave before 5:00.  Since there is no overtime, you should probably therefore leave before 5:30.
  • Any time you do not follow the above rules, an “incident” will be recorded.
  • Working in other building in the campus does not constitute “working” unless you have a “good cause”.
  • You are allowed 30 minutes a day outside your building.  Any longer is considered an “incident”.
  • All “incidents” are logged in “the system”, and employees must attend to each one and provide justification for their absence.

The main driver for this is stated as:

[The new workplace]  represents the social model that [the company] wants for their employees, which enables greater compatibility between work and personal life. …. For [the company], it is important that all the benefits of [the new workplace] have a positive impact on our employees, customers, suppliers,
shareholders and investors.

Or, put another way:

We want you to have a healthy work/life balance.  And even better, we have determined what that balance will be for you, and we are going to make damn sure you get it, whether it works for you or not.

Or, perhaps this:

To make sure that you get balance in your life, we will be tracking and penalizing you if you don’t follow our plan, because we don’t think you can be trusted to make the right decision for yourself in this whole  “work/life balance” thing.  Actually, we think that because we under-pay you, you would probably slack off and work less.

Doesn’t that sound a bit like “this is going to hurt me more than you”?

The new workplace: food

This post was drafted 23rd March, 2010, when I was living in Spain and working in the brand new campus built by the parent company. I’ve since relocated, and the parent company sold the company I worked for, who have since relocated out of the campus into another location. The rules below are no longer in effect.


Perhaps the biggest disappointed have been the rules regarding food.

Although I haven’t been able to find an official document, the following are the rules:

  • The cafeteria is not open outside the hours of 1:30 and 3:30
  • There are no kitchens any where else in any buildings.  No microwaves, no kettles, no sinks.
  • Coffee is only available from vending machines, and it is not very good terrible.
  • There is no tea.
  • There is no hot water to make your own tea.
  • You are not allowed to eat at your desk
  • You are not allowed to eat within the campus, but you are encouraged to enjoy the common green areas, which include lovely landscaping, ponds, plants and so on.  But only for a total of 30 minutes a day (see previous post)
  • You are not allowed to bring your own food into the cafeteria.
  • Cafeteria meals are a choice between 3 styles, and 2 sizes.  Large size is 7€, small size is 5€.
  • You can opt for a novation, which saves you 2€ on both sizes, and is deducted directly from your salary.

Some observations after the first couple of days:

  • The quality of the food is poor
  • The cafeteria does not have any of the sound proofing present in all the other buildings, so the result of thousands of people all eating within the alloted time is a cacophony that makes dining unpleasant.
  • People are bringing in their own food, and eating it in the car park. A bunch of these people were fired, and people stopped doing this.
  • People are driving out to the local neighborhoods and scoffing a sandwich and rushing back so as not to be penalised for being late.
  • Morning tea is a popular Spanish tradition, and people are now bringing in a sandwich, and standing around in the cramped vending machine vestibules.
  • People are very, very angry.  They are comparing the owner of the parent company to Mr Burns.